Since taking office in 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron has positioned himself as the antithesis to President Donald Trump’s climate denial. Throughout the last year, Macron has been one of the Paris climate agreement’s most outspoken proponents, hosted a climate conference in Paris (to which Trump was not invited) and even began offering United States climate scientists grants to come and continue their work in France.
On Wednesday, Macron brought his passion for upstaging Trump on climate issues to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, kicking off his speech with a joke about the U.S. president’s history of climate denial.
Macron began his speech in Davos by talking about the irony that a conference about globalization is taking place in a part of the world cut off from its surroundings by snow, immediately transitioning to a jab at President Donald Trump’s climate denial.
“For sure, with Davos, when you look outside…it could be hard to believe in global warming,” Macron siad. “Obviously, and fortunately, you didn’t invite anyone skeptical with global warming this year.”
— Reuters Davos (@Reuters_Davos) January 24, 2018
The comment was an apparent swipe at Trump, who tweeted in December that the East Coast, which was suffering through a historic cold snap at the time, could “use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against.”
In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017
Climate scientists were quick to point out that the president appeared to misunderstand the difference between weather and climate — weather being atmospheric conditions at any given place at any given time, and climate being the long-term trend of atmospheric conditions. Even though the eastern portion of the United States experienced bitterly cold temperatures in December, the rest of the world was experiencing above-average temperatures. The Arctic, for instance, was 6.1°F (3.4°C) above average in late December, and Australia experienced its fifth-warmest December on record.
Viewed from a global, long-term perspective, the trend is clear: the Earth is unequivocally warming. According to NASA, the five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2010, and 17 of the warmest 18 years on record have all occurred since 2001. Last year was the second-warmest year on record according to NASA measurements (third-warmest on record according to NOAA measurements), and the warmest on record without an El Niño pattern, which typically boosts temperatures around the globe.
Last year, climate-related disasters in the United States alone cost more than $300 billion, shattering the previous record for economic losses associated with natural disasters. From Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to devastating wildfires throughout the Western United States, there were 16 disasters in 2017 that individually totaled more than $1 billion each in economic losses.
Despite evidence of warming and billions in economic damage, however, the Trump administration has continued to push forward with its anti-climate agenda. In June, Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, sending a signal to the rest of the world that the Trump administration would essentially be removing the United States from future climate negotiations (the United States doesn’t officially exit the agreement until November of 2020, and could re-enter under a new administration). At home, Trump has also pushed for the repeal of the Clean Power Plan — the Obama administration’s attempt to place emissions limits on power plants — as well as a number of smaller regulations aimed at limiting emissions from industry and transportation.
Trump is scheduled to speak at Davos on Friday, and his speech will likely center on his administration’s America First policy. Meanwhile, in an interview given to Fox Business from Davos, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said that America’s fracking boom has finally allowed the country to become an energy exporter.
“The United States is not just exporting energy,” Perry said. “We’re exporting freedom.”